September 1, 2014

Android an Also-Ran to the iPhone Already?

As part of our daily habits and rituals for working on AndroidGuys, we have RSS feeds, alerts, and bookmarks that we hit up for Android news. Whether it’s a blog posting or tech site writing up something on the OS, we’re pretty much on top of things around here. One of the articles we came across today is called “Six Reasons iPhone Delivers Where Android Won’t” and it’s found over at WebMonkey.

I’m not going to go through a straight up 6-point comparison and rebuttal, but I will offer some insight from the other side of the fence. While Scott Loganbill makes some valid points in his piece, I think it might be premature to do the whole apples to oranges thing. Here’s a couple of takeaways I’d like to have his readers come away with if given the chance.

Regarding contracts: “In America, they’re two-year slammers which cost about $175 to break out of, courtesy of AT&T. Who’s left wanting a phone in the mobile marketplace? At best, Google will be competing for the slackers who don’t really care much about mobile phone technology and those who will end their existing contracts in the next couple years — depending on when the luster wears off on the iPhone.”

Android will probably appeal to the techies first and foremost. They’re currently the only ones really in “the know” right now. It will take actual devices in stores before the general public becomes aware of Android. The “slackers” will make up a decent chunk of customer base if only because Android is a free, open platform for companies to use. With less expense to pass along to the consumers, we could see it on lower-end handsets rather quickly. Oh, by the way, there were roughly 440 million Nokia handsets sold last year alone. That’s an awful lot of people left wanting phones. How many do you think HTC, Motorola, Samsung, and LG sold combined? They’re all founding members of the Open Handset Alliance and each will be supporting Android.

Regarding distribution: “Software developers can make money easily on the iPhone. Draw up a gadget nobody’s thought of, get it through Apple’s strict reviewing process, get featured on the App Store front page and you might earn $50,000 in your first month on the store. Write up an application for Android and you’ll be lucky to get any exposure at all, let alone figure out how to get paid for it.

Have you heard about Android Market? Same deal. How about what T-Mobile is doing by allowing developers to write for their entire product line? Yep. There will be plenty of legitimate places to sell your apps. On the Apple side of things, if Apple doesn’t let you in their App Store, then you simply won’t be able to distribute it legally. They are the gatekeepers, be that a thing good or bad.

Regarding handsets: “We now know the HTC Dream will work with Android, but we’re also promised Android can be ported to any smartphone device.

That’s never been promised by anyone. Wishful thinking at best. Would I like to see Android on a T-Mobile Dash, BlackBerry Curve? You betcha. Not gonna happen though. Now, HTC might make the same phone available in a Windows Mobile and Android iteration, but that is probably as close as it will get. What is true is that Android is free and available to any company or OEM who wants to use it. Also true is that Android will be available on trackball devices, touchscreens, flip phones, and more. Even devices without a screen. I’ve been saying since November ’07 that we will get Android on set-top boxes.

Regarding developers:Apple has a SDK, developer support and profitable App store, all of which have enabled it to attract a gaggle of developers.

Nearly 1,800 applicants entered into the first Android Developers Challenge. That was using this “out of date SDK and its skimpy documentation” – as Loganbill puts it. Imagine what will be done for the second challenge. Don’t forget all of the companies and giant software entities that did not enter into the challenge. There will be no shortage of Android developers, ever.

I don’t want to get into a true point/counterpoint, but I think you guys get the picture. I have to give credit to Scott for trying to stay balanced as his previous article “Five Reasons Android Might Deliver Where iPhone Won’t” is worth a read. Perhaps a better title for the current piece should be “Six Reasons iPhone Delivers Where Android Won’t… As of Today“.

I recommend you guys also check out Michael Martin’s response over at the Google And Blog. He echos some of what I said here, but also brings his own thoughts to the table.